Learn About Responsible Innovation in 8 training videos with Xavier Pavie

Responsible Innovation:

Raising Awareness through a Training Program

Xavier Pavie, Ph.D
Director of ISIS – ESSEC Business School, Paris
Research Associate at IREPH – Université Paris Ouest
In collaboration with Paris Region Innovation Center
October 2012

Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life”(Jonas 1979) 


What is responsibility? What is innovation? What do they mean for organizations? In order to understand the concept of responsible innovation, each one of the component terms must first be clarified, before all of its implications for an organization’s strategy and processes are explored.

This intensive course explores the critical role of responsibility as part of innovation. It aims to clarify the concept of responsible innovation and present varying perspectives and methods for integrating responsibility into innovation processes with a view to creating a guiding framework for implementing the responsible innovation strategy across the entire organization.


What gives rise to responsibility within an individual? By quoting French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, this short introductory part aims to briefly clarify the difference between an individual’s existence and essence. As such, the former begins from the moment we are born, while the latter is gradually conditioned by the choices an individual makes throughout life in relation to his or her responsibility.

CHAPTER I: Innovation in all its forms

We are constantly bombarded on a daily basis with so-called ‘innovations’. This chapter takes a look at the ever increasing presence of this ‘buzzword’ in our everyday lives and how its accurate meaning has been distorted and is gradually being forgotten partly due to misuse.

CHAPTER II: Why innovate? Innovate, choice and decisions

What makes up innovation? This chapter presents the complex dynamics at work within the innovation process and why the latter cannot be under-estimated in a highly global and ever-increasingly competitive market environment.

CHAPTER III: Schumpeter and his five types of innovation

This chapter takes a deeper look into the exact meaning of innovation. Indeed, as the original Latin term ‘innovare’ indicates, it involves a change inside something. This definition is often summarized as innovation meaning something new. However, everything that is new is not necessarily an innovation. The evolution of the term will be analyzed, right up to Schumpeter’s official definition and a final, yet critical, distinction will be made between ‘innovation’ and ‘invention’.

CHAPTER IV: Innovations without limits

Innovation leads to performance; that is a fact. Whether we talk about technology, music, painting, writing, health and study the cases of the Macintosh, Public Enemy, the works of French painter Manet, the new novel style of Alain Robbe-Grillet or the French health-care card, the goal was the same: to create value. A look at various types of innovations, through real case illustrations: Dell, Amazon, Google, Pixar and IBM’s software solution: SAP.

CHAPTER V: How can we understand and justify the need for responsibility in society today?

This chapter takes a look at the rising need for responsibility, tracing the developments from the first alarm call issued over fifty years ago with regards to the use of pesticides and their effect on the surrounding environment right up until current issues regarding designer babies and human enhancement. These developments are analyzed from three angles: the environment and the ecosystem; life and its avatars; technology and politics. Both the ever-accelerating progress of science, technology and the changes happening in the mode of human life are raising new issues, which have up until now never needed to be addressed, since humans had not yet developed such an extensive knowledge of certain topics, such as DNA structures, nanotechnologies, Internet, etc. Therefore, since the question of one’s ability to make something is now outdated, the responsible innovation concept attempts to address the new current question: “should I make this?”

CHAPTER VI: How can we reconcile innovation with responsibility in the context of the organization?

Innovation and responsibility have traditionally been considered to hamper one another. How can a firm achieve the right balance to keep innovating on products, services and/or processes while implementing responsibility all along its activities? Research suggests that this very balance could become a critical source of competitive advantage.

CHAPTER VII: How does one establish a process for integrating responsible innovation within the company?

Since innovation allows no certainty but is nonetheless essential for the organization’s survival within a highly competitive environment, it is crucial to provide a method for anticipating impacts which could result from the launch of the project. This requires the implementation of an organization-wide responsible innovation strategy, as well as a process focused on developing responsible products and services.


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